News – 4 August 2012
Parents object to religious instruction
At its annual conference yesterday, 3rd August 2012, Parents Victoria adopted the policy of the Australian Education Union, Victoria branch, with regard to special religious instruction (SRI) in Victorian government schools, and directed its executive to lobby for SRI to be removed from compulsory school hours. The executive had consulted the members in May 2012 and argued that there was no way of providing SRI for all the different religions in the community, and that schools should not divide children by religion but should treat them all as Australians.
The Victoria branch of the Australian Education Union, which represented 46,000 teachers, had on 13th May 2011 called for SRI in government schools to be disallowed during school hours; it resolved that public education must remain ‘free and secular’.
The latest development of Parents Victoria is welcome news for secularists such as Humanists, as well as for liberal-minded believers. It means that an awareness of the problematic status of SRI is spreading from groups of activists into the wider community. It is the Humanist view that State neutrality with respect to religion is the best guarantee of religious freedom, and dividing schoolchildren by religion is bad education.
Report by Stephen Stuart